Episode 36: John Osborne – Poetry in the supermarket

Picture: Katie Pope

Everything’s in the supermarket so you can write about death and sadness and love and romance.

John Osborne

Norwich-based poet John Osborne reads from his latest collection A Supermarket Love Story and discusses the potential for poetry in the setting of the stores we take for granted.

John’s supermarket writing prompt

Choose an aisle in a supermarket and write a poem about it OR write a poem with the title ‘A Supermarket Just Before Closing’.

Tips:

  • Visit a supermarket you don’t usually go to or go at an unusual time
  • Make a list of words associated with supermarkets
  • Write down memories, observations and other experiences associated with supermarkets
  • Think about how these experiences relate to other parts of your life

We’d love to read any poems you write so please send them in here for a chance to be featured on the blog or podcast.

John Osborne writes stories, poems and scripts. His poetry has been broadcast on Radio 1, Radio 3, Radio 4, BBC 6Music, XFM and Soho Radio. You can purchase A Supermarket Love Story here with illustrations by Katie Pope

http://www.johnosbornewriter.com

Episode 35: Wendy Hind – Tiny Poems

Wendy Hind from Lincoln, Nebraska, turned to poetry when her son was born with critical health problems. As her interest developed in poetry as narrative medicine for the soul she started the Tiny Poetry project, writing and sharing poems that deliver small but potent doses of hope, resilience, compassion and empathy. She shares some of the poems and talks about how the power of poetry is being increasingly recognised in the medical world.

Wendy also shares a poem written in response to Abbie Neale‘s writing exercise on clothing.

Wendy’s tiny poetry exercise

1. Think of a time when you or a loved one was ill. Take a few moments to write down five to 10 words that come into your mind when you think about that experience.
2. Next write a corresponding word next to each of the words you have just written. Maybe it is a descriptive word, maybe an action word, maybe a metaphor.  
3. Now read through the group of words circle those pairs that resonate the loudest with you. Add one more brutally honest word to each pair.
4. Take these words and attempt to compose a poem. The poem may be long at first. Often tiny poems are the result of paring down a longer poem – much like taking your initial list of words and taking out those words that are the least powerful. 
5. As concise brevity is the point of a tiny poem, every word must work towards the meaning of your poem.

Notes for a tiny poem

This is a great exercise for focusing the mind and writing about experiences that might be difficult to address. As you can see from the notes above, the initial list of does not have to be particularly creative or original. The words may or may not end up in the final poem but can help to pinpoint the one concise thing you want to say about the subject you’re writing about.

As always, submissions are encouraged. Please send you poems here to be featured on the blog or podcast.

You can find out more about Wendy and the Tiny Poetry project at www.tinypoetryproject.com

Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

Wendy Hind – White Flag

Coming up on the podcast Wendy Hind from Lincoln, Nebraska, shares poems from her Tiny Poetry project and talks about how it was inspired by her son who was born with critical health issues. You can find more poems on her website.

White Flag
If you think I am going
to wave the white flag
you are mistaken.
If you think I am going
to retreat
you are wrong.
I may have to refortify,
I may have to bandage my wounds,
but I am not done fighting,
and I intend to win this war.
I will not surrender
to my pain,
nor to you.

Wendy Hind

Episode 34: Michelle Marie Jacquot – Poetry in the Digital World

LA-based poet Michelle Marie Jacquot’s new pamphlet DETERIORATE, which criticizes and questions the digital age and the effects our modern world has had on humanity. She reads from this and her other collections and discusses her no-nonsense DIY approach to publishing and promotion.

Michelle’s predictive text poetry writing exercise

Has technology ever corrected something you meant to write into something completely different? What did it change? How did you react, feel? Maybe not even a word, perhaps a name? Someone you love to someone you hate? Did it make you angry? Make you laugh? Or was it a silly word? One you never use? Did it change the meaning entirely? Maybe it just made you annoyed at your phone? Who knows. Think on one time autocorrect has changed your words without permission. If it hasn’t, congratulate yourself and write about being precise or lucky, or both.

Please share whatever poems the exercise inspires. Submissions can be sent here for possible inclusion on the blog or future episodes.

For more information about Michelle Marie Jacquot and to buy her books visit www.michellemariejacquot.com

Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast can be purchased via the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

Episode 33: Ted Sherman – Children’s fantasy poems

In this episode we look at children’s poetry with Bristol-based poet Ted Sherman. He reads from his book for eight to 12-year-olds Dungeon Days which reveals the hidden lives of the mythical creatures living in a typical Dungeons and Dragons dungeon. He also provides a masterclass in writing similar children’s fantasy poems.

We encounter a dwarf in search of a hobby outside his deadly day job, a skeleton with an unusual afterlife and truly monstrous school dinners served by a minotaur. Patrick also shares a poem about a very athletic crab.

Ted’s children’s fantasy character creation exercise

There might seem like a lot of steps to this but each one is quite easy and together they provide a good foundation for a poem that children will love.

  1. Choose your character’s species. Is it a witch, a mermaid, a giant or dwarf. It could be a superhero or some kind of animal.
  2. Describe the characters appearance including things like gender, age, size
  3. Name your character.
  4. What is your character’s job? Try picking something not typically associated with fantasy – i.e. a milkman, the prime minster, a train driver etc.
  5. Create a short, one or two sentence, back story in which there must be a twist, such as the goblin train driver can’t see the controls of the train because he is too small so has to find another way to drive it.
  6. Create a brief story plan – a starting point, a midpoint and the end, so that there is a strong narrative through the poem.
  7. Decide on a rhyme scheme and brainstorm rhyming words that you can use in your poem.

This should give you all you need to write your poem. You don’t have to stick to the plan – things are sure to change along the way. When you’ve written your poem please send it in. It might be featured on the blog or podcast. Poems can be sent here.

Ted Sherman is a father of 3. His poetry has been read on BBC Bristol Radio and has been performed as part of the Echoes and Edges Collab’ Sessions, He has been published in several haiku journals (including Modern Haiku and Seashores), and during lockdown he undertook a project to display the Dungeon Days poems in a woodland area of Bristol during lockdown (this was nominated for the Radio 4 All In The Mind awards).

You can find my poetry at

Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast can be purchased via the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

Episode 31: Des Mannay – Writing Family History

Unless you enter things, unless you send poems off to get published, enter competitions… It’s by doing that that you make links and you never know what those links lead to.

Des Mannay

Wise words from Newport poet Des Mannay whose poems are reached further than he could have imagined. His raw, witty, personal and often political poems have attracted the attention of editors and competition judges leading to opportunities to perform and publish across the globe and beyond… Seriously – some of his poems are due to be sent to the moon!

On this podcast he reads from his debut collection Sod ‘Em – and Tomorrow, and shares a writing exercise on family history:

“Take a story or myth which is a part of your family history. Reflect on how you fit in as part of that story.”

Everyone’s family background offers rich material for writing. Des talks about his background and how you can learn more about yours to respond to the writing exercise.

You are more than welcome to submit poems written in response to the prompt here. We’d love to read them and they may be featured on the blog or podcast.

Des has also embraced the global community that has grown through poetry events held on Zoom. Here are a few he recommends attending:

Poetry in the Brew

Write and Release

Like a blot from the blue

Live Poets Society

You can buy Des’s book here. Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast can be purchased via the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

Episode 30: Ella Duffy – Mythology

Selkies, Medusa, moss children and other myths and legends inspire poems in this podcast with Manchester-based poet Ella Duffy. Ella reads from her books New Hunger and Rootstalk and discusses how she finds inspiration in mythology and the natural world. She also invites listeners to write a poem inspired by myths, fairy tales and legends.

Ella’s Mythology writing exercise

For this writing exercise, you’ll begin your own reimagining of an existing story, from either mythology or fairytale, folklore or legend. It can be interesting to think about your reimagining as a form of translation; some aspects of the story will remain the same, while others may shift entirely.

Listen to the podcast for more ideas on how to approach this exercise and Patrick’s response which imagines Medusa’s head being kept in a Marks and Spencer bag for life.

As always please share your poems. They could be featured on the blog or podcast. Please send them here.

To read more of Ella’s poems and buy her books see her website elladuffy.co.uk.

You can also buy New Hunger and other books by podcast guests via the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

Episode 28: Helen Ivory – The Anatomical Venus

Picture: Dave Gutteridge

Poet and visual artist Helen Ivory discusses her latest collection The Anatomical Venus. The poems explore how women have been portrayed as ‘other’; as witches; as hysterics with wandering wombs and as beautiful corpses cast in wax, or on mortuary slabs in TV box sets. 

The Anatomical Venus takes its name from life-size wax figures of women that could be dissected and were used in medical studies. Find out more about them here. Artwork by Helen Ivory.

Helen discusses the historic texts which inspired the poems written in the course of six years extensive research. She also invites listeners to explore historical texts as a source for new poems.

Writing from primary historical texts

There are many places to find primary texts: Libraries, books, newspapers, archives and online. Enjoy reading at first and see what you can discover. When something captures your imagination try writing a poem using some of the phrases and tone of the text. A good site to browse is www.eyewitnesstohistory.com

Helen Ivory edits the webzine Ink Sweat and Tears and teaches creative writing online for the UEA/WCN. A book of mixed media poems Hear What the Moon Told Me is published by KFS, and chapbook Maps of the Abandoned City by SurVision.  She has work translated into Polish and Ukrainian as part of the Versopolis  project.

Episode 27: Ramona Herdman – Drafting and redrafting

Ramona Herdman

Any serious poet knows the importance of redrafting. A poem can go through numerous drafts and change beyond recognition from the first jottings in a notebook to final published piece. It is also a difficult practice which takes time and effort to develop. It can be hard to see how to improve poems which either seem to be finished or failed attempts.

On this podcast Ramona Herdman talks about how her poem ‘My name is Legion: for we are many’ started off as drafts of two quite different poems. It went on to win the Hamish Canham Prize in 2017.

She also shares some poems from her latest pamphlet ‘A warm and snouting thing’, published by The Emma Press in September 2019 and shortlisted for the 2020 East Anglian Book Awards.

Ramona’s exercise for revisiting draft poems

Choose two existing draft poems that aren’t quite working – find one where you like something about the form and another where you like something about the content/subject matter and try to combine them somehow into one. There should be an element of surprise that they’re not both about the same thing, but there is some way of making the two subjects speak to each other.

Alternatively, if there is a subject you’ve been trying to write about for a while but haven’t got where you wanted, review your existing draft poems on that subject, note down a few of the best lines/phrases/images and then try to combine them to make a new poem. Or take a set form (a sonnet, rhyming quatrains, a ballad) and write a completely new poem on the subject, but being led by the form.

This podcast regularly invites you to try writing new poems so this is a great opportunity to develop something you have already written. Maybe there is a poem you started in response to one of the other prompts which you can develop using these ideas. If you don’t have any draft poems take some of the poems you think are finished and play around with them. Whatever comes up, you’ll still have the previous versions so you’ve got nothing to lose.

As always, do share your poems. They could be featured on the blog or a future podcast. You can send them here.

To learn more about Ramona and buy her books visit ramonaherdman.wordpress.com